This is a Portrait photoshoot with San Diego Fashion model, Taylor Whitelaw.  This was taken at Point Loma Nazarene University at the Science Building.   We were looking all over campus for this building, but by the time we found it, the sun was directly above us.   We decided to take pictures in the shaded area of the corridor.   Since it was so bright out, Taylor was basically a silhouette with the bright light in the background.  Since I’m still new in photography, I mainly shoot natural light… with no flash.   While I was shooting, I wanted to expose for the background only, and hopefully recover Taylor in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Well, it didn’t go as I thought it would during post processing.  I get the exposure in the foreground, the background gets blown out.  The skin exposure looks good, the hair looks faded and no contrast.  The shaded area of the skin gets blotchy and grainy. I adjust the shadows and saturation… then I lose the contrast of her eyes, lashes and brows.  Basically, I had to layer and mask different areas of the picture.  It was a lot of work for just one picture.   Then…when I think I’m done, there is always one little thing that bugs me, and I spend another hour working on that.   It may not be the case for a lot of people, but I have a bad case of OCD.  It’s hard for me to let things go.

In the end, I was 95% satisfied with how Taylor came out… but a lot of blown out highlights.   I’m still trying to accept that blown highlights are okay… if I’m satisfied with the subject.   It was a pleasure working with Taylor on this shoot.  She was very patient with me… dealing with the hot day, harsh sunlight, and walking a lot looking for locations to shoot.   I would have preferred a shoot during golden hour, but on a Saturday… we all have other plans besides a photoshoot.

Taylor Whitelaw feature blown out highlights after post processing
Taylor Whitelaw feature blown out highlights non edited

Gear and Settings:

Sony A7riii
Sony 24-70mm G Master f/2.8 @ 70mm
1/200 s
ISO 200
Edited in Lightroom and Photoshop

What I learned and what I would do differently?

On a Saturday, the shoot went well.  Next time, I would choose a weekday to do the shoot… during golden hour.  Someday, I would like to invest in light modifiers and flashes to make it easier during post processing.  However… I do like playing in Lightroom and Photoshop.  I mean… these are the tools that got me into Photography.

What do you all think about blown out highlights? and what or when would you consider it acceptable?